WTA Charleston: No. 1 Seed Madison Keys Upset By Shelby Rogers; Kasatkina and Gavrilova Set Up "The Dasha Derby" - UBITENNIS
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WTA Charleston: No. 1 Seed Madison Keys Upset By Shelby Rogers; Kasatkina and Gavrilova Set Up “The Dasha Derby”

Jakub Bobro

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Hometown Girl Shelby Rogers Upsets 1st Seed Madison Keys

 

World No. 11 Madison Keys started the match in very unconvincing fashion, going down a double break in the first set. At 0-3, Keys started to push Rogers further behind the baseline, and got more consistent on serve. This helped her turn the set around and take the first 6-4. After getting the first game of the second set, Keys lost the next 11 games in a row, a sight rarely seen, putting her at 6-4 1-6 0-5. This was not only caused by Keys starting to perform poorly on serve, but especially Rogers becoming more aggressive, exposing the angles. Keys took one break back before losing 6-4 1-6 1-6 in 1 hour and 36 minutes. Keys made 7 double faults and won only 21% of points after 2nd serve, showing that she is still far from the level she was at before her injury. Shelby Rogers will face Naomi Osaka next in the Round of 16.

Daria Kasatkina and Daria Gavrilova Advance, Set Up “The Dasha Derby”

This was the third meeting between the WTA Rising Stars Daria Kasatkina and Monica Puig, and just like the previous two, it was a three set battle. It didn’t seem like that in the beginning, as Puig lost the first set 0-6, winning only 1 point on her serve. In the second set, the gold medalist from Rio started to fight back and find her game, which resulted in Puig winning the second set 7-6(3). The final set was more even than suggested by the score, with Kasatkina managing to find the extra bit of energy to push her to win almost every game. When serving to stay in the match at 2-5, nerves got to Puig, and after two lost rallies and a double fault, she was down 0-40. However, the Puerto Rican got really aggressive and saved 3 match points, before finally falling after 2 hours and 1 minute, 0-6 7-6(3) 2-6. Despite beating the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber twice already in 2017, Kasatkina hasn’t had an ideal start to the year. She was actually coming into Charleston with a 4 match losing streak. The Russian is now through to the Round of 16, just one match away from defending her quarterfinal run from last year in Charleston.

Kasatkina’s opponent in Round of 16 will be her good friend and 9th seed Daria Gavrilova. The Australian swept past American Alison Riske 6-3 6-1 in just an hour and 6 minutes. Despite a heavily taped right thigh, Gavrilova was moving well and her return game was on point, winning 65% of all points on return. Gavrilova has to hope for a solid result in Charleston, as she has to defend Quarterfinals in Madrid and Round of 16 in Madrid. On the bright side, the Australian made a first round exit at Roland Garros last year, giving her a chance to increase her ranking with a solid run in Paris, perhaps break Top 20. Head-to-head between Kasatkina and Gavrilova is 1-0 for the Russian, winning their only meeting at the 2015 US Open, Kasatkina’s breakout run.

Resurgent Rodionova Marches On

34 year-old Anastasia Rodionova is now through to the Round of 16, defeating former World No, 5 and 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani 6-2 6-2. Rodionova managed to just hit through Errani, who is currently struggling and outside the Top 100. This is the Australian’s 4th win in a row, not even losing a set yet in Charleston. Rodionova’s next opponent will either be World No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki or Annika Beck. In the live rankings, Rodionova is at No. 349, meaning that she will move up 320 spots in the rankings if she loses in the 3rd Round. If she will win, Rodionova will be back to Top 300.

Overshadowed Upsets

Other than the No. 1 seed Madison Keys and Venus’ loss to Siegemund, two other seeds lost today. 13th Shuai Zhang didn’t manage to hold off the sheer firepower of Naomi Osaka, even on clay. The Japanese player won 6-4 6-4, and will play Shelby Rogers for a place in the quarterfinals .

4th seed and Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina will not defend her final at the Volvo Car Open, as she makes a 2nd Round exit to Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar. This is the biggest win of her career so far for the 18 year-old, beating the World No. 13. 13 is also the number of aces Stollar fired off in this straight set win. Despite failing to serve out the match twice, Stollar managed to regroup and win the match 7-6(7) 7-6(3). The talented Hungarian will next face Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Remaining Results

5 seeds advanced to the second round, 4 of them in straight sets. 10th seed Irina-Camelia Begu was the odd one out, battling past Kristina Kucova 4-6 6-2 7-6(6) after 2 hours and 29 minutes. The Romanian will face Samantha Stosur next.

7th seed Kiki Bertens was the highest seed that advanced today, defeating Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2 7-5. Bertens will need to take advantage of the lack of favorites and get as far as possible, since she has to defend a staggering 1218 points. 11th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni is continuing to have an incredible year, now through to the Round of 16, where Bertens and Lucic-Baroni will face off.

15th seed Lucie Safarova beat her doubles partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 6-3. The Czech will be next tested by Laura Siegemund,. 8th seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-4. After the match, the German informed her fans on Twitter that she suffered a knee injury in the match. She wrote that she will get an MRI and have more information soon. Petkovic is a well-liked player, but she has been going through a rough patch results-wise, so let’s hope that this will not be a career-ending injury.

Sevastova’s next opponent will be the Tunisian lucky loser Ons Jabeur, who actually didn’t win a match in qualifying, as she received a walkover and then lost to Asia Muhammad. In the main draw, however, Jabeur already beat Erakovic and Linette in straight sets. Jelena Ostapenko is the other Latvian in the Round of 16, beating Maria Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-2.

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.

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Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.

 

The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria
.”

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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Emma Raducanu Launches Own Weibo Account With Viral Video

In her first video, the teenage sensation promised to play in China next year.

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Emma Raducanu reacts after winning a Women's Singles semifinal match at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu is gaining a rapidly growing fan base in China with her first video on the social media account Weibo surpassing one million views in less than two days.

 

The 18-year-old has become one of the most talked about athletes in the world of tennis following her unprecedented run to the US Open title. At the Grand Slam she didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played to become the first qualifier in history to ever win a major title. Even more remarkable was the fact Raducanu was playing in a Grand Slam main draw for only the second time in her career.

In her native UK bookmakers are already tipping the youngster as a strong contender to win this year’s prestigious BBC Sports personality of the Year award. Although it isn’t just Britain where she is proving to be a hit. Raducanu was actually born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother who both work in the finance section. The family moved to the UK when Raducanu was two-years-old.

“My mum comes from a Chinese background. They have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture,” she said.
“She’s always instilled a lot of discipline and respect for other people into me, so I think that having parents like I do, they always push me, they have high expectations so I’ve always tried to live up to that. And I just hope I did them proud this week and I’m going to keep trying to go, keep going.”

Shortly after her US Open win, the world No.23 delivered a message in mandarin which was posted on the tournament’s Weibo account. SportsPro Media reports that the video generated more than 11 million impressions.

Now Raducanu has launched her own Weibo account with a video message to her fans. Shine.cn, which is a website powered by Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, said that the British player has promised to play in the country next year. This season’s Asian swing has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shine also said she spoke with a slight ‘accent from northeast China’ where her mother is from.

According to the latest view count, the video has been watched more than 1.22 million times since it was published. The view count may look impressive but it is by no means a one off. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that two hashtags related to Raducanu on Weibo have been viewed at least 200M times each as a result of her US Open win. These hashtags were ‘18-year-old ethnic Chinese young player wins US open championship‘ and ‘Raducanu.’

Despite her relative inexperience on the Tour, many are tipping Raducanu to become one of the most marketable athletes in the world. Her ability to interact with the Chinese market will play a significant role in those considering the country has invested millions into the sport and hosts a series of prestigious women’s events. However, in the immediate future the teenager says her focus is on the tennis.

“I have a few days’ rest and recovery – I think needed after the last seven weeks,” she told CNBC’s Closing Bell earlier this week.
“But then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments.”

Besides Weibo, Raducanu also has over 583,000 followers on Twitter, 1.9M Instagram followers and 63,000 followers on her official Facebook page.

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World No.1 Ash Barty May Skip WTA Finals Over ‘Ridiculous’ Conditions, Says Coach

The decision to move the event to Mexico could result is the loss of the wortld No.1.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) celebrates defeating Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) in the fourth round of the Ladies' Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Monday 05/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

The season-ending WTA Finals could take place without the world’s highest ranked player due to the change of venue and its conditions, according to her coach.

 

Ash Barty is the reigning champion of the event, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is usually held in the Chinese city of Shenzhen but this year’s edition has been relocated to South America. Earlier this week the WTA confirmed that it will be hosted in Guadalajara, Mexico during the early part of November.

Reacting to the latest development, the mentor of reigning Wimbledon champion Barty has hit out of the new location. Craig Tyzzer has voiced his concern over the decision to use pressure-less balls at the event which will be played at high altitude. Going as far as describing the situation as ‘ridiculous.’

“We only just found out it’s in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they’re using pressure-less balls,” Tyzzer told the Australian Associated Press.
“Pressure-less balls absolutely fly. It’s a ball that, if you use it in normal conditions, it doesn’t bounce. It’s not the greatest advertisement for the best girls in the world to be playing something they’ve never done before.’
“In conditions they’ve never played, in a country they don’t play and at altitude, I just feel it’s ridiculous. As a spectacle, it’s just frightening.”

Guadalajara already hosts a WTA 250 event during the first quarter of the season. In this year’s tournament no top 20 players were present in the main draw which was won by Canada’s Leylah Fernandez.

Barty is currently taking a break from the Tour following her third round loss at the US Open. Tyzzer said the chances of the world No.1 playing in the WTA Finals is up in the air due to the current travel restrictions in place. When Barty returns to her native Australia she is required to spend two weeks in isolation. Therefore the later she leaves it to go home, the less time she will have to prepare during the off-season.

“Indian Wells (next month) is still on the radar but she just needs a rest. So I told her to just get away and have a holiday,” he said.
“It certainly isn’t easy for us to get there and to play that event in Mexico and then to come back and have to do two (more) weeks (in quarantine) and then your summer is sort of ruined as well. It’s a decision we’ll have to sit and mull over quite a bit.”

So far this season Barty has registered a win-loss record of 42-7 and has won a total of five Tour titles. Besides Wimbledon, she has also triumphed at two Premier Mandatory and two Premier 700 events.

The WTA Finals features the eight highest ranked players in the world with a multi-million dollar prize money pool. This year will be the first time in it’s 49-year history that the tournament will take place in South America before returning to the scheduled home of Shenzhen in 2022.

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